Senator Wieckowski praises state budget deal

Record budget makes responsible investments in education, transportation, environment; studies linking BART-ACE train in Fremont

June 14, 2018

SACRAMENTO ­– Today the California State Senate passed an on-time, record budget that includes the highest investment in school funding, the biggest reserves in a generation and investments in climate adaptation, fire prevention and transportation improvements.

“California’s strong recovery continues and this budget’s record investment in K-12 schools and funding increases to higher education to avoid tuition hikes will provide more opportunities to people seeking a diploma,” said Senator Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont), a member of the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee. “This budget is the product of months of hard work and almost 70 committee hearings. It keeps our economy moving while also setting aside reserve funds in case there is a downturn in the future.”

Wieckowski, who chairs the budget subcommittee on Resources, Environmental Protection, Energy and Transportation, touted the budget’s funding for fixing our roads, highways and public transit to address needed road repairs, create jobs and improve commutes. Locally, the budget includes funding for a feasibility study, to be completed by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, on the potential for an intermodal transit station in Fremont linking BART, the Altamont Commuter Express and AC Transit.

“I believe such a transfer station will provide commuters more transit alternatives, add convenience and shorten commute times,” Wieckowski said. 

Senator Wieckowski, one of the Legislature’s leading advocates for climate adaptation funding, was instrumental in getting millions into the budget for San Francisco Bay wetlands restoration.

“This increased funding for San Francisco Bay wetlands restoration will benefit people and wildlife by accelerating creation of marsh habitat and our region’s adaptation to climate change,” said David Lewis, executive director of Save The Bay.

The budget also addresses another Wieckowski priority – providing low income Californians access to justice – by making permanent a $10 million funding increase to the Equal Access Fund, which provides financial assistance to legal aid organizations. Legal aid providers help low-income Californians in many ways, including preventing violence by obtaining, renewing and enforcing restraining orders; preserving access to health care; fighting unnecessary foreclosure or repossession; securing unpaid wages; stopping elder abuse; and helping immigrant and blended families.  They also step in to resolve their clients’ problems to avoid lawsuits altogether.  

On healthcare issues, the budget provides $50 million to develop options for universal healthcare and expanding Covered California subsidies.  Wieckowski also helped include almost $500,000 to have the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) conduct a literature review and risk assessment on the potential impacts of synthetic food dyes on children.

“Few organizations are as well equipped to thoroughly assess the risks posed by food dyes, and to advance our understanding of how they affect children, as California’s OEHHA,” said Lisa Lefferts, senior scientist with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). “Children and their families owe a debt of gratitude to Senator Wieckowski for this sensible budget provision.”

Mounting scientific evidence suggest that synthetic food dyes contained in child-oriented food products trigger hyperactivity and other behavioral problems in some children with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and other behavioral disorders. 

The CSPI released a report in 2016, Seeing Red: Time for Action on Dyes. Studies in the report found a connection between food dyes and adverse behavior linked to doses considerably lower than what’s found in several children’s products.

Senator Wieckowski represents the 10th District, which includes southern Alameda County and parts of Santa Clara County.